Health Care

Federal judge blocks Kentucky, Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

Federal judge blocks Kentucky, Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

A federal judge scrapped Medicaid "community engagement" requirements in two states on Wednesday, declaring that mandating such activities runs counter to the objective of the program, according to theAssociated Press.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson at a June 2018 news conference about the state's first-of-its-kind work requirement for expanded Medicaid. This is the second time Boasberg has blocked Kentucky's work requirement waiver, which has not yet been implemented. Only 18,000 of those people lost some of their benefits for failing to meet the new "work" requirements which took effect last June.

States such as Kentucky have predicted its new work requirement would lead to tens of thousands of enrollees losing Medicaid benefits, though states argued some of them would get coverage from new jobs.

Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, a District-based plaintiff in both cases, said that based on the judge's ruling, Arkansas officials "are going to, at the very least, have to put [the requirements] on hold", while federal officials reconsider them.

Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have had their work requirements approved by the federal government, but they are not yet implemented. He has said he will eliminate Medicaid expansion if the state is not allowed to institute work requirements.

He used similar language in his ruling on Kentucky. Bevin said the state will appeal the ruling. "We believe, as have numerous past administrations, that states are the laboratories of democracy and we will vigorously support their innovative, state-driven efforts to develop and test reforms that will advance the objectives of the Medicaid program". Republicans in these states are now intent on chipping away at this progress, and work requirements are one way the Trump administration is encouraging them to do it. The state also planned to impose small monthly premiums from those Medicaid recipients to mimic private insurance plans.

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"I am disappointed in the decision handed down late this afternoon".

Overall, Medicaid is the government's largest health insurance program, covering about 1 in 5 Americans, ranging from many pregnant women and infants, to severely disabled people and elderly nursing home residents.

Instead, he wrote that HHS approval of the Arkansas requirement was "arbitrary and capricious because it did not address ...whether and how the project would implicate the "core" objective of Medicaid: the provision of medical coverage to the needy". It was adopted under his Democratic predecessor and provides coverage for 400,000 people.

IN officials said they planned to move forward with their work requirements despite the ruling. The desire to connect Medicaid health benefits to work requirements has always been a goal of conservatives, but the language of Boasberg's opinions relays the reasons why advocates for the poor have been predicting this decision; they have insisted that health benefits and work should not be linked.

In the Arkansas case, Judge Boasberg similarly found that the HHS secretary did not adequately consider the impact of the work requirement waiver on coverage, and that the secretary did not even offer an estimate of coverage loss.

Boasberg reached the same conclusion when he first ruled on Kentucky's program last summer. Beneficiaries here who fail to report work status for 3 months are locked out of the program for the rest of the calendar year. Politically, of course, work requirents are relatively popular, and tend to put progressives in the hard position of defending a failure to work by allegedly able-bodied beneficiaries, even though studies have shown that almost all of them work, are in school, or are taking care of family members.


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